Date: Wednesday, September 16, 2020
Dear RESNA Members,
I hope this message finds you safe and well. As you may know, in August I assumed the role of RESNA’s president after serving two years as RESNA’s president-elect. Throughout my career, RESNA has been an indispensable source of community and support. I am honored to be able to give back in my new capacity as its president.
RESNA has undergone a tremendous organizational transition under Mary Ellen Buning’s leadership. RESNA's leadership now has access to a network of association experts that help us provide our membership with the resources they need to support their professional goals. This allows us, the assistive technology professionals, to focus on what we do best – working together to support the development, dissemination, and best practices of rehabilitation engineering and assistive technology.
I am particularly excited for RESNA to have its first virtual conference. Although our decision to hold a virtual conference was prompted by circumstances beyond our control, the new format provides an opportunity to reflect on how we can expand the reach of future conferences. I am looking forward to hearing our keynote speakers reflect on their perspectives from around the world. Malcolm MacLachlan is the National Clinical Lead for Disability Services in Ireland, as well as the Research & Innovation Lead for the World Health Organization’s Global Collaboration on Assistive Technology. Antony Duttine supports the countries and territories of the Americas to facilitate more inclusive health services for people with disabilities. Bill Peterson will present the Colin MacLaurin Lecture, reflecting on his tenure managing the RERC program at NIDILRR.
Like the in-person conferences, RESNA’s first virtual conference will offer a range of excellent professional development opportunities. Attendees will learn about the latest research advances, clinical practice strategies, and industry innovations. Future RESNA leaders will showcase their work through our annual Student Design Challenge and Student Scientific Presentations. Please take advantage of the morning “Coffee Chats” to network with your AT colleagues.
The virtual format offers a few exclusive benefits to conferences attendees that we have not been able to offer in the past. All sessions will be recorded and made available to attendees after the conference for six months. This flexibility allows you to balance professional development with work and family commitments. In addition, the virtual conference is the first time we are offering IACET CEUs. Those in need of continuing education credits can earn 2.0 hours of IACET CEUs by participating in the live workshops or watching the recordings at a later time. These IACET CEUs are available free of charge to RESNA members.
I am so honored to be part of RESNA’s leadership as we celebrate our 40th Anniversary. RESNA has much to celebrate as the premier professional organization dedicated to technology solutions that improve the health and well-being of people with disabilities. Whether it’s pioneering assistive technology standards development, launching the first assistive technology professional certification, exclusively publishing assistive technology research in the AT Journal, or offering the very first “Fundamentals” course in AT, RESNA’s accomplishments have contributed greatly to the field and to helping people with disabilities live their best lives.
RESNA continue to be responsive to the ways in which the world is changing. Some of these changes come with new challenges; others may empower people with disabilities to be more independent and involved. RESNA will need to take advantage of new technologies and infrastructural changes to create better opportunities for people with disabilities.
Please do not hesitate to reach out to me and other Board members to share your thoughts and ideas for RESNA. As we adapt to the rapid changes in the world around us, I am excited for RESNA’s continued resilience and growth.